Valour and Courage: REMEMBERING OUR MILITARY IN THE CONGO (ONUC ) 1960 A MOST MEMORABLE NIGHT
Death or Glory
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The Courageous
Who Have Looked At
Death In The Eye
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Stories Of Valour
Courage
Nuffnang
Miscellaneous
No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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REMEMBERING OUR MILITARY IN THE CONGO (ONUC ) 1960 A MOST MEMORABLE NIGHT
Monday, January 04, 2021
The Greyhound Armoured Car armed with a 37mm gun.

The original plan of the Malayan Special Force (MSF) called for a three week retraining in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) and then be deployed in Kasai Province in support of the Ghanaian Brigade.
But it was not to be, the minute we arrived at Leopoldville on 02 November 1960, we were immediately given unscheduled tasks like guarding Key Points and installations and a host of other duties besides road patrolling. The troops created a favourable impressions among ONUC staff and the few expatriates including some Belgians in the city. We were considered well disciplined and smart in turn out. The Ferret Scout Cars created an impact whoever they went; always drawing curious attention from the awe stricken local populace.

We scheduled our Presentation Parade on 22 November. The night of 21 November 1960 turned out to be a most memorable night for me. I was Duty Officer which meant I was the only officer in Camp Chanic after working hours. The rest of the Officers were at our Officers Mess located about five kilometres away. There were a few officers deployed elsewhere, one was 2/Lt Borhan Ahmad whose No 4 Platoon was guarding the residence of Patrice Lumumba, the deposed elected Prime Minister. The Platoon task was to prevent Lumumba from being captured by the Congolese army.

By this time Colonel Joseph Mobutu, the Chief of Staff had staged a Coup-de-Tet and assumed power. He broke off dipolamatic relation with Ghana and declared the Ambassador persona non grata. Mobutu gave him 48 hours to leave but the Envoy waas defiant and remained at his Residence after the deadline. He had a Platoon of Tunisian troops guarding his Residence. As a comparison a Tunisian Platoon had more men than our Rifle Platoon, their Infntry Company consisted of 200 soldiers and commanded by a Lieutenant and the Brigade Commander was only a Colonel in rank.

The explosive situation of 21 November at the Ghanian Ambassador Residence caught us unaware. Certainly as the Duty Officer holding the Fort, I was not briefed. By 1600 hours truckloads of Congolese troops had surrounded the Residence. Prior to that the Tunisians had beefed up their strength to two hundred men. At 1800 hours the Congolese brought in five more truckloads of soldiers plus one Greyhound Armoured Car armed with aa 37mm gun. The highly charged atmosphere exploded around 1945 hours. A point to note, our 2 Recce Regiment prior to 1960 was a full blooded Cavalry unit equipped with the Daimler Armoured Car (DAC) and the Dingo Scout Cars.

Our DAC armed with a 2 pounder similar to the 37 mm gun of the Greyhound. In Gunnery we were taught T&A (testing and adjustment) of gun barrel with the telescopic sight. The Congolese obviously did not do T&A or sheer bad gunnery, possibly both, when in the heat of battle the Greyhound took aim at the Ghanian Residence and fired one round. The neighbouring house was the Officers Mess of the Royal Canadian Signal Regiment. Horror of horrors, that round meant for the Ghanian went through the ceiling of the Officers Mess.

As related by a Canadian officer, they were having dinner when the round came through and caused a total blackout. The officers dived for cover, the end of dinner!! The whole incident occured less than a kilometre from our Camp. Tracers could be seen flying all over the sky. At Leopoldville we were placed under command of the Tunisian Brigade whose HQ was located adjacent to our Camp. Seen clearly were the battle ready Tunisian soldiers in full battle order on standby at their HQ. Two senior officers approached me and a sked for our Ferret armoured escort. I told them to contact my Squadron Leader, Maj Zain Hashim at the Officers Mess.

There was no escort and nothing moved from the UN side during that night. During the fighting the shooting was wild and indiscriminate. A ceasefire came into effect at 0700 hours the next morning. There were many casualties but those killed in action were relatively light. The Tunisian suffered two killed and the Congolese four deaths but it included the Leopoldville Garrison Commander, Colonel N'Kokolo. Camp Leopold the largest military camp in Leopoldville was renamed Camp N'Kokolo in his honour.

The aftermath of the incident was swirling hot rumours of a imminent revenge attack by the Congolese Army on ONUC HQ. That's another story for another day!
Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku.

TAN SIEW SOO Lt Col, rtd, ARMOUR

011-23383288

tango200099@gmail.com
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:01 PM  
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